Sam Tompkins – numb

In a week of Taylor Swift hitting us with “… sanctimoniously performing soliloquies I’ll never see” and, on the opposite end of the spectrum, “What if he’s written ‘mine’ on my upper thigh, but only in my mind?,” UK-based singer-songwriter Sam Tompkins has released a song that, gracefully, requires no extraneous unpacking of concept.

“numb,” a tune he has gone on the record multiple times saying is one of his favorites he’s ever released, is out now.

It is a story of, simply, a man who has let himself reach the bottom of the barrel: “I see a man in the mirror/ I see a blurred-out figure/ I used to look so different/ I guess that time is a killer, huh?” At one point, that man in the mirror would have dug himself out of that whole. Now, he won’t even try to: “I’m done thinking about it/ But my heart won’t allow it/ I’d rather be numb.”

“’numb’ is all about the feeling of wanting to feel nothing at all,” he said in a statement. “Sometimes when you’re struggling that’s the only thing you want. An escape. That’s what I want this song to be… something you can scream in your car or in your room when you feel like the world’s not listening.”

Tompkins possesses the vocal grit that some contemporary artists, including several of his own European peers, overemphasize ever so slightly. For him, it’s assists in highlighting his tone, and is used sporadically and effectively. His natural flow and texture is Post Malone’s more nasal approach on “Novacandy,” but his mini trills, which he executes across his catalog on songs like “Phone,” “time will fly,” and more, are done with a more resonant, and practiced, dose of soul and R&B.

Because of this, Tompkins, currently on tour with The Kid LAROI in Europe, may just be one of the best candidates for that gig. LAROI has grown exponentially but could abundantly benefit from watching Tompkins on stage every night. By doing so, at least on the technical level, he could soak in valuable assets of knowledge to apply to his own performance.

Musically, “numb” shifts between the acoustic as the fundamental focus point to an almost nu-metal style chorus. It is reminiscent of the time of songs like “Mine” by Bazzi, “Ocean” by Martin Garrix and Khalid, and “Empty Space” by James Arthur, but treads just a tad further out of the pure pop space.

Tompkins’ debut album, hi, my name is insecure, will be released on May 24th.

Stream “numb”: